Feels like my puppy hates me

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 2014-05-24

I just recently brought home my new 8 week old male doberman, Zayn four days ago and I have a few questions. He doesn't listen or respond to me or whatever I'm saying. He kinda looks at me, then proceeds to  roam around doing whatever he wants  I'm not asking him to do much, just simple stuff like getting his attention to come to me, or to sit. He also approaches everyone but me for attention, I'm assuming he knows he won't be disciplined by said person if he does anything wrong like bite or nip. Of course this tends to frustrate me because as his owner I feel kind of like the "mom" and disciplines him when he is out of line (for example a firm no, standing up walking away , occasional swat of the nose if the biting is serious). Long story short, is this normal behavior of an 8 week old puppy? what is normal behavior? How much training should be involved at this point? And am I expecting too much? The underlying feeling is that I feel like I already screwed him up and I've only had him for 4 days! I feel like he hates me because I enforce good behavior and correct bad behavior.

Any advice?

Konkie's picture
Joined: 2014-05-06

Pet Profiles

Hi Maddie,

I don't have an awful lot of experience as I have also only had my pup a week too, however, she (mostly unless there is something more interesting) listens to me and knows her name and to sit. I have found with Leica she's very food orientated (at least for her dehydrated liver snacks!).

I got her to learn her name and come by offering her these high value rewards when she came. So eg. I would say her name, when she looked at me she would get a treat- she picked this up really fast! The same when asking her to come (although most of the time she followed me around anyway). What I have read from others on the forum is that pups wont really learn much from negative correction at this age, it's more about reinforcing the positive. Sometimes Leica is a biting machine and just will not stop at which point she gets a time out in the kitchen for 5 min and when she comes back shes calmer.

I have also followed what Oz dobe has said and am praising and treating Leica for licking my hands saying "gentle" rather than biting and she seems to have got the message not to bite hands- legs/trousers/arms/knees are another matter!

Joined: 2014-05-24

Thanks for the advice! You are very lucky to have an obedient little one. My dobe loves men and seems to be in a trance at the sight of them and only follows them around, so as a woman trying to get his attention is very hard, treats or no treats. He is automatically drawn to them and will follow them around like their shadow so trying to get him to come to me has been difficult. I think I will try other treats and maybe it will help. He doesn't make eye contact with me at all and I do not know why. The breeder said to swat at his nose if he does bite, but thats the extent of serious discipline. So I think you're right, I might start back at phase 1 to see if he will even look up at me to be rewarded. Obviously this takes time, and patience but I hope he will warm up to me soon.

Oz Dobe's picture
Joined: 2014-03-25

Sounds like the men in the family are doing the spoiling and you are doing the disciplining? I'm not convinced that swatting a puppies nose for doing what is perfectly natural to it, is appropriate, especially when he is only a new addition to your home.

If the men in the house are spoiling the puppy, and you are 'disciplining' him it stands to reason that he will see you, and run to where the good things come from. Your whole family needs to be pulling in the same direction for this to work.

Eye contact with a dog comes with maturity. It actually goes against their natures because in the dog world, full eye contact is threatening behavior. So we seriously rewire the dogs behavior when we get eye contact with it.

Your pup is offering submissive deferential behavior toward you (not looking at you) because you are disciplining him. If you try to 'force' eye contact, you will make him anxious and he will not learn. Theres a term for it - learned helplessness. Its possible that the next stage will be deferential urination, and you dont want to go there. He's going to be thinking, 'hey, she's not accepting my deferential signals, I need to try harder..'. Or in the learned helplessness scenario, he will just lie on his back and wag one leg in the air, and their he'll stay, unable to continue training for the session.

When your pup doesnt look at you, due to stress, you can try offering some signals to let him know that its ok, such as yawning, or if he does look at you, blinking at him. These are signals that dogs use to defuse tense situations between each other. When Storm and I are chillin' sometimes she will look at me and I'll blink at her, and she'll blink back and we both relax and that can go on for a minute or so.

As konkie mentioned, rewarding the good behavior that you want, and finding alternatives to behavior that you dont want (such as teaching 'sit' and putting a puppy in a sit if its nipping), builds trust and prevents these anxiety driven behaviors.

I hope this information helps give you some insight into whats going on with you and your pup.